David Goffin is one of players, Dominic seems not to have a concept how to play against. There are some similar players on tour, not necessarily very high ranked, but being hard nuts to crack for Dominic. Things look worse on hard courts of course.

What’s the problem and how to solve it?

David is a lightweight among the top players. He would have no chance if he did not play that fast as he does. This is his main weapon, recently working well even against Federer.  Not the concept or some special skills. Has he weak points to exploit? Sure, everyone has.

Some would say, they are “mental”. Suddenly comes a game or two, when nothing sits: serve, length and angles, precision of shots, These are moment, where he gives the opponents a chance. If you cannot take it, he quickly recovers and to have an opponent trailing 0:40 to you and not be able to break is frustrating. So maybe next game will be your weak one, but David can convert his chance.

A good approach would be to be faster, just like David was in London against Federer. Mainly running faster  and taking balls earlier. But what to do, if you cannot?

Well, David (and similar players) is not unbeatable but not easy to beat.

Now you are Dominic Thiem. How can you turn the wheel and stop him hitting winners before you can?

To try to take the ball earlier would require quite a deep change in the game style. Not a productive approach. To run faster – well, you cannot, because of your movement profile and timing. Hit faster and harder? He can use your power and the harder you hit, the quicker is the ball back on your side of the net. So only if your balls are untouchable. Difficult, but possible, so maybe a kind of good point to create a winning approach against David?

David is very difficult to break (if he does not break himself), so you must take care of own serve to not get broken. It would often than not end with lost set.

If you do, and David does not break himself, you must play the tiebreak. Tiebreak’s count is different than in normal game. Every point lost on serve is a mini-break and sometimes lottery starts with both trading breaks all the time. Until one of both holds own  serve.

The  best approach would be IMO to be alternating aggressive and patient.  A pattern well controlled by Dominic is to pull the opponent to the net, by deliberately playing short ball and then pass him or play to the body with a fast and heavy shot. If he can catch it, you mostly should be able to play a volley or drive winner. Another one would be what I call SRBD. An aggressive return. To not play the same every ball, making the opponent easy to guess, what is coming, sometimes try to slice deep, so the ball is dead and cannot be hit fast. It can be a trap for a player like David, because he would be the first to not feel comfortable in such a rally.

Generally playing David or similar player you must take more risk than usual. Isner is not directly comparable with David 😉 .But look, how Isner wins tiebreaks, being his daily meal. He is playing something you don’t expect, including some unorthodox shots, on return. And of course mostly holding own serves.

This applies generally to every game in the match, but of course a bit more to tiebreakers.

I would like to see you, Dominic, defeating your nice friend next time just this way. Or maybe you have a better idea?

PS: have no idea why, but Dominic used (with very good results) SRBD in first half of the season, but then stopped to use it and lately used his usual block return, not a bad one, but rather passive return, good against big servers. This was some hole in his return games and maybe the reason of some losses in matches, in which SRBD was not present.

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  1. Who has subscription on TennisTV, can still watch and compare Dominic’s two big matches of 2017 – against Dimitrov in Madrid Masters (candidate for match of the year) and against Dimitrov in London. No matter the surface, they both deliver really epic battles 🙂

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